Flash Essay: A Matter of Time

Time has always been a bug-a-boo for me. Having enough time; taking enough time. Is this just me or does everybody have this problem? I can’t quite tell. I am beginning to think this is an American malady, or maybe specific to a large city like LA, since it’s not uncommon to overhear people saying, “I’m so busy,” or “Let me check my schedule.” When we’re in Texas, people also have full lives, but time seems to slow down there. Maybe it has to do with travel time since people can get from A to B fairly quickly. In LA, distance is never described in terms of miles, but rather by time. “Oh no, I can’t come over there. It’ll take me 45 minutes because of traffic” or “Yes, I’ll be there, but I can’t come between 3 and 7, it’ll take me three times as long to get there because of rush hour.” Time…yes…a real bug-a-boo.

When I was little, time was not a problem. Mornings stretched on for days, followed by afternoons that seemed to go on for weeks. No rushing here or there, simply playing inside my house or in my back yard. But then there came school. The first few years weren’t bad, just school then home to play. Then around 4th grade, time started getting shorter. There was school, then activities after school, then homework, plus friends to visit whenever all those other things weren’t getting in the way, not to mention time with family. Middle school and high school brought on more activities after school, more homework, and more time with friends. Family was crammed in whenever something else wasn’t happening. College shifted everything. Time seemed to slow back down in college since it was only school and homework and a few friends and activities. That went all the way through graduate school and even into my first two jobs. There was rhythm and routine and time accommodated what needed to be done. This all changed once I got married and started having children.

Those kid years are one big blob of memory at this point with the operative word being “busy.” No more, no less. Just busy. Three kids keep you hopping, though I have noted that even one can keep you on your toes. But everyone during this phase of life universally accepts that time is filled to the brim. No surprise when you have your own life to stuff in around those ever-filling lives of your kids, what with ballet, sports, their homework, their friends, etc. Everyone just shrugs and says, “Yeah, well, this is just how it is.” And that’s good.

But now, my kids are grown and there are no PTA meetings to attend or swim meets to drive to, and yet, my time is still full. Why is that? Shouldn’t this be when I get to try playing golf or tennis or head to the swimming pool every afternoon? Isn’t this when I’m supposed to be able to sit and read for hours or volunteer over at the hospital? I guess not. Not in my world at this point, at least. Is it the recession?

Certainly the economy has taken its toll on many of us, pulling us down to a place we didn’t expect to be at this age of our lives. Certainly in our case since my husband’s business has gone to nothing and we are re-thinking where we’re going from here. There is no retirement in sight; there is no pension fund to rely on. And yet, I wonder if the economy is really to blame. Would I, being me, be considering retiring in the next five years if the economy were strong? Me, with this tendency I have to over-do, stay too busy, keep moving all the time? I suspect not.

Not to say I wouldn’t mind knowing I could stop when I wish. I guess I will stop one of these days, whether I wish to or not. But I subscribe to the school of thought that working long and late in life is good for you. Lucky for me I feel this way since this looks as if it is my fate. Not that I don’t know plenty of people who have active and vital retirement years, and they are doing fine.

As for me, I am almost sixty and I might just have to accept that I live life at a certain pace. I will slow down soon enough (I hope not too soon) and maybe I am simply getting in as much life as possible in the time I have remaining.

I think I’ll resolve to just relax with my time issues and let them be what they are. I still find time to spend with people I love – not that there couldn’t be more of that – and I manage to do pretty much everything I really want to do with the exception of activities that require lots of money. Maybe I’ll just settle back and relax about time and let it takes its toll when it pleases.

Until then, you’ll find me zipping from here to there, happy to be alive.

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4 Comments

  1. Gary Michael Porter said,

    August 1, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    All this “too busy” talk–which is the buzzword of our generation–takes me back to a TV interview I watched years ago between Tina Turner and Oprah Winfrey.

    Must have been late 80’s or later, when Tina was in the midst of her second round of fame and creativity, yet approaching senior citizen status. Oprah turned to Tina and asked, “Is there ever a moment when you think about slowing down, about your age, about the fact that you’re….”

    Tina’s head snapped to the side, classic wig over the shoulder hand flip. “Well,” she said, in that clipped voice. “Yes. I do suppose there will come a time. When.”

    “You know.

    “When I can’t do it the way I used to.

    “There will come a day.

    “BUT I’M JUST NOT READY YET.”

    Well, of course, she’s still touring, has a big Broadway production in the works.

    I made my mind up right then and there: I am just not ready yet, nor will I ever be..

  2. August 1, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    I’m retired going on six years soon and time has speeded up, not slowed down for me. I have lots of projects and interests eating up my time. I cannot imagine anyone in a rocking chair, twiddling their thumbs because they don’t know what to do with themselves. I’m never bored and often complain I can’t find time to read.

    Still, I do believe we are living in a time of not having enough time. We tend to be overly busy: internet, texting, social networking etc. travelling, painting, writing, golfing and so on. Best to keep busy, yes?

    • August 1, 2012 at 10:43 pm

      I agree that we’re overly busy. No doubt about that. My goal would be to aim more for a Zen state of being: be here now. I try to do that even with my busy life.

      And, yes, I do think keeping busy is better than the alternative. I am not surprised to hear that you are never bored!


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